10 Smart Tips for Buying and Selling on Craigslist

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10 Smart Tips for Buying and Selling on Craigslist

One of your friends bought her car on Craigslist. Another one finances his trips to exotic locations with the profits he reaps from selling his electronics (every time he upgrades to the latest and greatest iPhone – there's no use in the old one hanging around, collecting dust).

While the possibilities seem quite exciting, navigating this cyber-based marketplace also brings with it a new frontier of uncharted territory. There are no hard and fast rules, but getting a grasp on some general guidelines might keep you from ending up on Court TV, admitting to the judge that you really did think you were buying a genuine 5-carat diamond for the low, low price of $75 (money you would really like to see back in your bank account).  


1. Take Your Time

If you take the very first 13-inch notebook you find, ignoring the fact that it’s about $100 more than you planned on spending, you might find out right after you make your purchase that there were 15 better deals had you spent some more time looking. Look through all of the listings (including other nearby cities), compare prices and send questions to sellers.

2. Make an Offer

You set a personal budget of $60 for a living room chair, but the one you found that is the perfect chair is listed at $75. Make an offer! You’re dealing with real people who are posting their items amid a sea of millions upon millions of other goods. Most people are willing to negotiate.

3. Use an RSS Reader

When you’re searching really hard for a particular item or you’re constantly on the go, using an RSS reader can save you a ton of time. Simply perform your search (item, price, location, etc.) and then right click on the orange RSS button on the bottom of the page. Click on “Copy Link.” If you’re using Google Reader, for example, use the link to add a subscription to your reader. As new posts are added, they will show up through your reader so you don’t have to manually search throughout the day. 


4. Provide Detailed Item Descriptions

The better the person on the other end of the computer can visualize the item you’re selling, the more likely he or she is to fall in love (and decide not to leave your lackluster post). Add pictures. Describe every detail.

5. Accept Cash Payment

You might not be set up to take a credit card. And a check – well, checks can bounce. Cold hard cash means you get paid instantly – as soon as you exchange the item you’re selling for the buyer’s legal tender. It’s that easy, and including a receipt in the exchange is always wise.

6. Remember to Re-List Items

When 23 people post items after you, your post ends up at the bottom of the stack and becomes utterly forgotten after a few days have passed. Re-post the item you’re selling as often as you’re allowed so it receives as many views possible.

7. Remember to Remove Your Ad

Remove your ad when the item sells because:

  • You would hate to get excited about something that had already.
  • If you get serious about selling, a tarnished reputation for leaving up old posts will not help your ability to make a profit.

Buying or Selling

8. Make a Copy of the Ad

Those fake diamonds someone tried to pass off as real diamonds – you’ll have a hard time proving you deserve your money back if you don’t have a copy of the original ad. Then again, maybe you sold cubic zirconia to someone who is claiming you listed it as a real diamond. Your problem is solved if you have a copy of the original posting!

9. Meet in a Safe Public Place

This person might sound really nice on the phone and through email, but you’re still dealing with a stranger. Protect yourself whether you’re buying or selling by meeting in a public place during daylight hours just to be on the safe side.

10. Research Prices

Whether you’re looking to purchase something and are looking for a fair deal or if you’re trying to sell something and would like to see your profits ASAP, getting a feel for your item’s market value is the best way to reach your goal. If something is too good to be true, trust your instinct. And if you really want to sell, don’t turn away potential customers with an inflated price.

Buying and selling on Craigslist is certainly a world of its own. Just remember to keep that sparkly cyber-stardust out of your eyes when you’re getting down to business by keeping helpful tips in mind, and your experience will remain an enjoyable one from start to finish.

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